More Civil War: So That's What Winning by 20 Feels Like

Craig Robinson's post-game comments, bottom of this post...

After an up and down year that many have been quick to classify as a disappointment, the Beavers seem to have found some stability after a 62-42 win over the Oregon Ducks on Saturday. That's the biggest margin of victory for the Beavers over the Ducks since a 94-51 victory in 1982. Also, for Oregon State, it was the first Civil War season sweep since the 1992-1993 season, and yet another sign that Craig Robinson's team is asserting itself as the best in the state. In his two years at Oregon State, Coach Robinson has a 3-4 record against Ernie Kent and the Ducks. 

Even with a 4-6 record thus far in conference play, the Beavers are sitting just a game and a half out of second place, and could insert themselves into the league championship conversation with a pair of wins this week in the desert. 

This is the point in the season in which Oregon State needs to take a quality win and build on it. The Beavers have been lacking stability and consistency this season, and now would be a great time to put that criticism to bed. It seems that Omari Johnson is back in form, joining with Calvin Haynes and Roeland Schaftenaar to form a talented veteran trio. Throw in freshman Jared Cunningham, who has been playing out of his backside, and we could have a interesting second half of the season. 

The Beavers will begin with Arizona State and Arizona this week, before hosting first-place California and the struggling Stanford Cardinal. After that, the Beavers will go back on the road and play UCLA and USC, before ending the regular season with the Washington schools at home. 

SBN's Addicted to Quack weighs in on the game...

I think it's natural to look at this game as another setback for Oregon, but I think it's more accurate to view it as a bad match-up. The Beavers' stingy defense has twice stunted the Ducks, completely taking them out of their transition game and causing them to turn the ball over and force highly contested shots. It also didn't help that Oregon shot a mere 60% from the free throw line.

Taking away Oregon's transition game was huge for the Beavers, and they kept that up the entire game. Despite being near the bottom of the conference standings, the Ducks are still one of the streakiest teams in the Pac-10, and it doesn't take much for them to turn the tides in a game. All they need is a little momentum for the tempo to increase and for the breaks to start going their way-- and the Beavers didn't let it happen. The Beavers only allowed four fast break baskets all game. 

Bob Clark of the Register-Guard points out that there was a large difference in the shooting percentages:

There was a fairly easy way to explain the disparity: The Beavers sliced up Oregon's defense so well that they were credited with 20 assists on their 21 field goals. The Ducks? They had four assists, a low this season by a Pac-10 team and a definite contributing factor in Oregon's lowest point total against the Beavers since a 29-23 loss to OSU in 1984, before the shot clock.

The overall team performance was great to see. Especially against Oregon's zones... you just don't see those assist numbers against a zone every day. The zone defense generally forces teams to shoot mid to long-range contested jump shots, but the Beavers were able to work inside and consistently made the extra pass. It also didn't help Oregon's case that they turned the ball over 17 times.

Pac-10 standings below, and Craig Robinson's post-game thoughts after the break. 

Pacific-10 Conference Standings

(updated 2.6.2010 at 11:21 PM PST)

Conf Overall
W L W L
California Golden Bears 7 4 15 8
Washington Huskies 6 5 16 7
Arizona St. Sun Devils 6 5 16 8
USC Trojans 6 5 14 9
Arizona Wildcats 6 5 12 11
UCLA Bruins 6 5 11 12
Washington St. Cougars 5 6 15 8
Oregon Ducks 4 6 12 10
Oregon St. Beavers 4 6 10 12
Stanford Cardinal 4 7 10 13

As you can see, Stanford has plummeted thanks to three straight losses, the Oregon schools are still at the bottom of the standings, and there's a big logjam in second place. As I suggested earlier, if the Beavers were to win both of their games this week, that would put them in the top half of the standings and put them in great position for the final six games of the season. And judging by Oregon State's showings against both UA and ASU earlier in the year, a sweep this week definitely is attainable. 

--Jake | (jake.buildingthedam@gmail.com)

Craig Robinson

On the game...

These guys put together a wonderful game. What you saw out here was a result of what took place this week. I thought the guys were focused, serious, and it was one of those weeks where you had an opportunity to have things go wrong because there were a couple of days in there, and no game on Thursday. These guys were professional in how they handled the week, in how they handled their work, and how they handled our preparation for the game.  
Our big thing is playing against zones, and we haven't been able to execute like we have, like we did in this game. For us to really execute the way we did against a zone like that-- it was kind of a breakthrough for us. It was really good to see. It was exciting to see the guys take that, make a few mistakes, then build on it. 

On Omari Johnson...

He was the guy who was practicing the best at that position during the week. He did a fantastic job at practice. We needed somebody in that four spot to step up, and it was nice to see him do it. It was especially nice for Omari-- I think you remember it during the pre-season, he was practicing the best. He was the guys who had made the most strides during the summer. He was really building a resume to be the guy in that spot. It was really good to see some of that hard work pay off. 

On Jared Cunningham...

Jared is important for us. We were almost devastated when he picked up that second foul because he's still young and picks up fouls quickly. There's no way I could trust him not to get his third foul. He's very aggressive, and that's what you need. You need confidently agressive players in this league because there are a lot of good players. 

On his aggression getting him into trouble...

He has great anticipation, and fantastic closing speed. But what I'm going to get back to is a lot of what he gets is because of the pressure Seth puts on the top. We haven't had who can take advantage of that from the baseline standpoint since Rickey. What your'e starting to see is everything is coming together for everyone, and it's just refreshing for us and our team to have this kind of game with this kind of crowd. 

On the return of many former Beaver greats, and the way the team played...

A lot of those guys played games like that. They played at a time when the basketball here was fantastic. It really is a proud moment to be running this program and have a team out here that played to those guys' level while they're here. And not just the former players, but the fans who are very knowledgeable about the game. There's nothing bad about what happened this afternoon. 

This fan-base has seen a lot of this type of offense. You provided 20 assists...

That is a phenomenal stat for any offense, let alone the Oregon STate offense. That is the sign of guys who have a great relationship with each other, a great understanding of the game. The extra passes today were just phenomenal, and you could see it take the wind out of their sails. It is a level of understanding that we haven't reached-- even last year. We really didn't play a game like this, because we didn't face as many zones last year. To do what we did, to get that many assist against a zone-- unheard of. 21 field goals, 20 assists. It's hard to do against a zone because there's so many times in the man to man when you use someone else to help you score. In a zone, you're catching the ball and trying to make your own thing. To see that every single time we drove in the guys were looking except if they could get right to the basket. It was a treat to watch.

--Jake | (jake.buildingthedam@gmail.com)

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